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Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture
It's YOUR fault Sports Karate!!!!


Read the Link and the responses It angers me that quite a lot of what he said and others who responded to the Blog is true. But its nothing to do wth the "Style" its the way its been taught. Ole Skool Karate regardless of style was as tough and as hard as it came. It WAS effective and we did grab and grapple and go to the ground and "wrestle" as well as other waza. But Sports Karate with the Typy Tappy bouncy bouncy scream and shout stuff with this "one strike one kill" theory that just doesn't work!!!! It was proved in the early UFC matches that the "pure" karateka was useless against a grappler because they refused to acknowledge ne waza etc due to the incite of Sports Karate. I blame YOU for what the world thinks about Karate, unfortunately We Knockdown are tarnished with the same brush as you guys. I hate it when people say "oh Karate doesn't work" Jujitsu is much better and why because the only experience they have is Sport Karate and JKA JKF and the other "modern Orgs" where Semi and non contact is the trend. But are you going to change anything about it......... No you're not, because you still believe your stuff is brilliant because you got a wall of trophies in your McDojo. I don't like it at all. YOU ALL need to sort out the organisations by telling them you want Karate to be more effective or vote with you Membership by leaving and joining an Orgnaisation that does Want Karate to be what it used to be. Johnny's mother has won, she wanted Johnny to be a 10 year old 3rd Dan but without getting a bruise or having to fight for real against other black belts etc. Its become a product to make profit from not an art which is taught to few who can survive the training. MMA is very popular and they do hit and they hit hard and they grapple and everything else that is not allowed in Karate. stop being pretend black belts and do something to change what the world thinks of Karate OSU
ky0han's picture


what is it with that rant?

I read the article and the person who wrote it has either no idea what he is talking about riding all the preconceptions he could come up with or he had very bad experiences (maybe both).

I really don't care!!!

The magic word is as usual context. Does it work or doesn't it? Where? In what situation? What are your training goals? As long as you are training for sports you are not prepared for another thing.

MMA fighters also get nearly killed in self protection situations. They can grapple in the ring, great, but get killed in the notorious streets. Whats wrong with a 10 year old 3rd Dan when his training goals are of a technical nature and he has the technical level to perform the movements?

There is one thing to blame and that is that many MA teachers don't know that there is a difference between fighting, self protection and art. Or maybe it is honesty? To advertise a school they sell the whole package but just deliver a part of it.

Regards Holger

jeffc's picture

Seriously?!?!  You came onto the website of one of the top practical karate instructors in the world and had a rant about sport karate and how everyone needs to change? 

You will probably find that most people on here are already pragmatically-minded and realistic in their practice, hence why they come on to Iain Abernethy's website and use this forum. 

As for changing other people's views about karate, I am reminded of the phrase "Don't get angry when a dog barks.  Dog's bark, it is what they do."  People will always have debates about which style or martial art is best.  It has happened for years and years and you cannot stop it and neither can anyone else. 

Just stop worrying about what others are doing and follow your own path, sincerely and honestly.  In other words, stop talking and keep training.

Kind regards


Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

ky0han wrote:
what is it with that rant?

I read the article and the person who wrote it has either no idea what he is talking about riding all the preconceptions he could come up with or he had very bad experiences (maybe both).

Thanks for your response.

Yes I agree it is a rant, i sohuld have added ******* Rant Warning!!!! *********

The thing is contact IS the issue, even in Full Contact Clubs, FullContact is only used in Competition or Kumite where its required say for Dan Gradings etc. Many "Freeze" when hit for the first.

I agree with much of what you say, I just feel that what I do is nothing like what JKA etc Karate people do but we are tarnished with the same brush.

Th0mas's picture

I wouldn't get too upset Black Tiger..the blog post is just 5  strawmen arguments that enables the author to respond with some blindingly obvious statements and fake some righteous indignation.

...Anybody can write an inflametory article based on "common sense" + "general knowledge" without doing any real research or having any experience... The Daily Mail anyone?

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Much appreciated for the responses, and apologies for my rant

Thanks all

Marcus_1's picture

Black Tiger wrote:
The thing is contact IS the issue, even in Full Contact Clubs, FullContact is only used in Competition or Kumite where its required say for Dan Gradings etc. Many "Freeze" when hit for the first.

Sorry but I don't agree with you on that statement.  I left training in Shotokan to move to Kyokushin Karate recently.  The dojo I now train at certainly doesn't reserve "full contact" sparring purely for gradings! First ever session in Kyokushin and I was sparring with the Sensei full on, the only slight issue is that they do not allow punchs to the face, other than that, it's very full on.

I do agree that sport karate is ruining karate as it has gone from the "classical" form of civilian self protection taught in Okinawa to what we now have today and ignores alot of the "finer" points such as grappling, joint locks, throws etc in favour of having a more "child or family" orientated training in most dojo's.  This is in part down to the organisations, but also down to society as a whole, who is going to open a Dojo that trains in the same way Asato and Itosu used to where injury was a possibility if it went wrong?  The potential for law suits far outways any wish the Sensei may have of teaching as close to the old masters teachings as possible, no matter how well meaning his/her intentions.

Dale Parker
Dale Parker's picture

Everything the Parrot guy said is only his opinion.

He obviously benefitted from his Karate training, he just doesn't realize it or appreciate it.

The 15 plus years or so of training surely improved many things he takes for granted.

Unless they just stood around doing nothing.

My guess is he improved on all of the following:  Flexibility, conditioning, overal strength, hand eye coordination/timing, situational awareness, posture, focus, etc.  

The list goes on, yet he says nothing about these benefits.

He probably had a few friendships, perhaps more.

JWT's picture

I thought the 5 reasons article was interesting, but I didn't feel it was about karate as much as the author thought it was.  It was about a particular type of karate and a particular type of student.

The dojo the author describes seems in many respects a typical sport orientated karate dojo.  From his description it teaches a form of karate that is good for fitness and coordination.  That may well represent the majority of karate dojos out there, the fact that it didn't teach effective for self defence close quarter combative karate is not necessarily a problem unless that is what he wanted.  Where the dojo seems atypical is that (based on his decription) it seems to have had institutionalised bullying and abuse of students and socially disfunctional members.  It does not sound like a good dojo to be in.

Now here's the important point: he chose to remain with that dojo/organisation for almost 15 years.  The people smart enough to see that the atmosphere was bad left.  The people who wanted something else from their training left.  The people who had the sense to see that it wasn't karate for self defence left.  He chose to stay.

The author has used (in the comments) the word 'dumb' to describe his Sensei, I think it sums him up perfectly.  

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

I dunno, I ceased caring what people like that think a long time ago.

People with something of substance to say usually do so in good faith, and put forth relevant information, rather than cynical, self-serving nonsense like that article. He could have written a basic article  saying the same stuff (granted, that's already been done by so many authoritative people it'd be almost pointless to write your own) that didn't have the tone of a hormone - charged fifteen year old. Then again, that kind of spectacle is exactly what draws the Bullshido-conditioned martial arts readership of today's internet, not an article meant for anything serious, just to get some people saying "Yeah Bro"..that's it.

 I don't care what the world thinks of Karate, the right people find the right training IMO. I'm glad some people are willing to go out and change perceptions, but i'm not one of them. Even after just 6 or 7 years of my own dojo, I can honestly say I have no real energy for "the public", or their fickle tastes, expectations, and short attention spans...the energy is better spent on people who are interested/intelligent/tough/thoughtful/whatever  to actually think past soundbite nonsense like this article.

I know that all sounds really cyncical itself, but seriously, you can do all you can to change public perception, and it will not be any different, most people are looking for a quick fix and are not "lifers" in MA, never will be. So the energy is simply better spent on people who actually interested in learning, not people who think you are supposed to prove your worth to them...all IMO of course.

John's picture

This thread got me thinking about what Rory Miller talks about in "How to think" in meditations on violence. People have these assumptions about what self defence training should feel like and shotokan type (really almost all karate clubs) cater to that. The problem is that most of the "feel like your learning to defend yourself" drills/exercises are simply harmful and will do not teach people how to realistically use their skills in self defense. After being done with competing people realize that their karate training did not deliver what was promised to them. 

If I did not find Ian Abernethy's wonderful approach (I like kata's) to practical karate training  I would have reached much the same conclusion as him.

mike23's picture

Karate has been around a long time. let us assume the discussion starts after WW2. Karate practitioners have been defending themselves for 60 or 70 years or more quite nicely too I believe before any "practical" karate system. I don't understand the sweeping generalization that tournament people or kata people can't defend themselves. Maybe your talking about a small percentage of dojos or maybe you're talking about an even smaller number of passive/uncoordnated people who take karate to feel good who never get good at their style, then trying to make that the majority. All styles have people who can't defend themselves said the mirror. 

stevem's picture

I'm frequently astonished when anyone who either has a problem, or develops a problem, with karate almost always blames karate for whatever the problem is. I'm probably the worst dancer in the history of England but, after having read this article, I'm now secure in the knowledge that it's actually dancing which is a fault, it's not me at all! Woohoo!

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

If I'd wanted practical unarmed combat I'd have stuck to the tried-and-tested things my father showed me as a kid.  

I loved competition.  It took me all over the world and I will always appreciate that.  The problem though is people all too often look at combat sport through the lens of 'would it work outside?'

It's an irrelevant question.  Almost like looking at an F1 car and asking 'where do I put the shopping?'  The second reason people slate competition?  Almost invariably they are not good at it.  As a competitor then as an international referee I saw hundreds of people get a severe kicking and now see many familiar names popping up on forums telling us competition is useless.

Like the previous post said, don't blame the dance.


Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Gary Chamberlain wrote:

Like the previous post said, don't blame the dance.


Agreed, I'd put it to bed a while back

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Gary Chamberlain wrote:
I loved competition. It took me all over the world and I will always appreciate that. The problem though is people all too often look at combat sport through the lens of 'would it work outside?' It's an irrelevant question. Almost like looking at an F1 car and asking 'where do I put the shopping?' The second reason people slate competition? Almost invariably they are not good at it.

I like the F1 analogy :-) I also agree with your observations. I was talking to a friend this week about how people try to judge various sporting formats by the incorrect criteria of self-protection (as if it’s the only yardstick that counts) i.e. “this form of combat sport is more like criminal violence than this form of combat sport.” To me, it’s a little like saying, “my banana is more of an orange than your apple.” What we should be doing is judging something by its own standards and objectives i.e. “How orangey is this orange?”

It’s one of the things I love about the Judo guys I trained with. Their objective was to win Judo tournaments and discussions about how skills would cross over into “the street” were never had. The aim was to do good judo, and that was the yardstick by which everything was measured. They didn’t have the confusion around context, objective and self-defined value that karate so often has.

It’s all good … when “good” is defined by the objective of the pursuit in question.

I also agree that rubbishing something because we can’t do it, or it falls outside our own particular skill set, is very common. I think this works in all directions too. Almost all ‘camps’ will judge ‘outsiders’ by their own internal standards.

Accepting that “value” is linked to objective, and that there are hence many valid ways to judge value, is liberating I feel. It opens us up to all the many positive experiences, and skills that there are to be learnt, that exist within in the “board church” of the martial arts.

As an aside, I’m working on a podcast that I want to put out in the New-Year called “In defence of sport” which will discuss these issues. I hope people like it.

All the best,


Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

As long as we don't kid ourselves on that we're tough guys in all situations, challenging ourselves to up our skill and fitness and compete gives a focus to our efforts. Many quote 'public speaking' as a huge fear and in a similar way getting up in front of a crowd and risking public failure is a scary thing. I know I was more scared of looking a chump on the mat than I was of getting burnt in my professional career. A psychologist might enjoy explaining that one ...

Rather than trying to turn myself into an animal I found competition allowed me to harness and direct my 'competitive' rather than 'combative' streak. I found that more rewarding than simply learning how to damage people.